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FAF Blog

Hardwood Flooring And Dry Climates

By FAF Staff Writer, (310 words) Posted in Hardwood Flooring on February 25, 2010
There are (87) comments permalink

Wood is a natural product which is affected by natural forces. It is also hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture which will cause it to swell. When the moisture is removed or expelled, the wood can be expected to shrink. This applies to all types of wood. Hardwood flooring performs best where the relative humidity ranges between 35% and 65%. Dry climatic conditions present environmental situations that are potentially harmful to wood. Dry conditions are not necessarily associated with high temperatures. Extreme cold climates also experience dry conditions especially during the heating season. In dry climate a wooden floor can develop cracks, movement, cupping and/or buckling.

Installing solid hardwood flooring is not recommended in dry climates. Engineered hardwood flooring is best choice for a dry climate because it's comprised of several layers which makes it more stable with temperature and humidity changes. One of the precautions that should be taken before installation of wood flooring is to acclimate it by exposing the flooring to a controlled environment as near as would be normally expected. This can be achieved by running heating and humidity systems.

If humidity levels below 35% are expected some problems might be prevented following the guidelines listed below:


  • Use humidifiers to regulate the moisture so that the relative humidity is maintained at between 35% and 65%.
  • Avoid sudden humidity changes. This can happen with painting, plastering or any other activity which can add moisture to the atmosphere which the wood can absorb. Such elevations in moisture levels should be compensated by the humidifier.
  • Avoid wet mopping which can cause the wood to absorb moisture and can result in expansion.

Our hardwood flooring basics will provide much more information on things to consider when buying hardwood floors. For those of you who like do it yourself (DIY) projects, our FREE guides and videos on installing hardwood floors will guide you through the installation process step by step.

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Comments (87)

Justin posted on: February 28, 2010

I genuinely like this article. I live in a pretty rainy part of New Jersey, and I never realized how much the humidity would affect hardwood. I recently had to replace my old floors because of that. With the new hardwood, I can hopefully keep the climate dry to prevent warping.

mahi posted on: June 15, 2010

We lived in New Mexico temporarily and were told that if we stayed there more than two years our wood furniture would dry up and become brittle. Is there truth to this. My daughter is thinking of buying older furniture from New Mexico and I wonder if it is a smart move.

Ken R posted on: May 7, 2012

I agree that engineered wood flooring is best in overly dry or overly humid climates.

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